Venom Returns to Challenge Otto Octavius in Superior Spider-Man #22

SUPERIORSPIDERMAN_22_COVERby Aaron Einhorn
Marvel just sent out a press announcement telling us that November’s issue of Superior Spider-Man (specifically, issue #22) will bring Venom back into the pages of Spider-Man as the Otto-possessed Peter Parker clashes with the infamous symbiote.

I can only find myself wondering how we’re supposed to react to this. Dan Slott says “Venom always brings out Spider-Man’s dark side, and we’re taking that 10 steps further in this latest arc. You should probably read this in a sunny, well-populated area,” which sounds good, but I have to ask how true it is.

First off, the history between Peter Parker and Venom really shouldn’t apply with Otto in the driver’s seat. Otto doesn’t care about Venom. He’s pushed Mary Jane away, and Aunt May is out of the city, so why would Venom have any particular significance for him? Heck, if anything, Venom should be the one who finds the encounter troubling.

And of course, that doesn’t even touch the question of which Venom? Mac Gargan is back as the Scorpion, and was just recently seen in the pages of Superior. Eddie Brock, last we saw, was powerless and hunting symbiotes down, having successfully eliminated (at least for now) Hybrid and Scream, and having been briefly bonded with Toxin. As far as I can tell, fans are still enjoying seeing Flash Thompson as Venom, and in addition to his own title, Flash has been quite active in Thunderbolts. So, if it’s Flash, why would he be fighting Spidey (even the Otto Octavius version), and if it’s Brock, well, then that sucks for fans of Flash-as-Venom.

I’ve never been the biggest fan of symbiotes. I enjoyed Venom when he first appeared, as a dark mirror to Spider-Man, but hated it when he became a sort of anti-hero and they were forced to use Carnage to actually be darker than Venom. And I won’t even get started on the proliferation of symbiotes that came out of the various Venom miniseries. That said, I am a fan of Flash and seeing what they’ve done with both the character of Flash Thompson and the use of the symbiote suit itself. I’m not really eager to see that come to an end, especially not just to restore the status quo of Brock-as-Venom, and especially not right now with Otto already serving as a dark reflection of the Spider-Man we know and love.

Of course, I’m a regular reader of Superior Spider-Man, and a big fan of the creative team of Slott and Humberto Ramos, so it’s not like I’m going to suddenly stop reading the title because of this announcement. But I am very skeptical of where this storyline could end up going.

Superior Spider-Man #22 comes out in November, 2013, written by Dan Slott, with interior art and cover by Humberto Ramos.